Timeshare owners demand their right in court again from Alegria (ex Caravanserai resort)POSTED: 07/27/15 7:19 PM
The world of happiness Alegria claims to provide does not include the disenfranchised timeshare owners of the former Caravanserai Resort. Photo Today / Hilbert Haar
St. Maarten – The Court in First Instance will rule on August 14 on the lawsuit the Time Share Owners at Caravanserai Association (Toca) has brought against the resort’s new owner, Alegria Real Estate. The association demands a return to the situation before the bank auctioned the resort in August of last year and that Alegria respects their timeshare contracts.
Martyn Schellekens and Mark Kortenoever represent Toca in this case. Chris de Bes and Metin Unsal defend Alegria’s position.
After Alegria bought the Caravanserai resort at auction last year, it informed timeshare holders that their contracts were null and void. It offered the timeshare owners the right to use the hotel accommodation for the next two years, providing that they pay maintenance fees and give up their rights to timeshare. Many timeshare owners balked at the mere suggestion.
They formed the association called Toca and took Alegria already to court in November of last year in summary proceedings. Toca demanded at the time that Alegria withdraw the letter in which it declares the timeshare contracts void and that the company give them access to their units.
Toca lost the lawsuit because, according to the court at the time, they had bought their timeshare rights from a company called Endless Vacation, not from Kildare Properties, the owners of the real estate at the resort. Because Alegria did not buy Endless Vacation at the auction, it does not have to respect the timeshare contracts, the court ruled.
Yesterday the attorneys for Alegria accused Toca of abuse of legal proceedings because its new lawsuit is based on the same grounds as the one it filed last year.
Martyn Schellekens told the court that Alegria did not even know the contents of the contracts the timeshare owners held when it gave them their marching orders last year. “Even during the negotiations leading up to this hearing they asked about it.”
Schellekens said that the Toca-members have paid between them $1.5 million in advance rent and that they had not received anything in return. The association has started a regular court procedure as well against Alegria.
“My clients want Alegria to maintain the status quo from before the auction and they expect access to their units. Imagine that you go shopping and you come back and cannot get into your apartment anymore. That’s what happened here.”
Schellekens noted that Kildare Properties had two subsidiaries – Endless Vacation and Island Hotel. Endless Vacation sold timeshare rights and was registered as doing business at Caravanserai. Since October 1 of last year, the timeshare owners have been barred access to their units.
“We are dealing here with the same question Toca asked last year,” Metin Unsal told the court. “The court gave a negative answered to it. Toca had a legal relationship with Endless Vacation and that company was not involved in the auction.”
Unsal hammered on the fact that Endless Vacation sold timeshare contracts and that there is no lease agreement between the contract partners. He also denied that Endless Vacation was a representative of Kildare properties.
“The timeshare owners paid $12,500 for one week – that represents the $650,000 value of the units,” he said. “This was a one-time payment so they were not paying rent.”
Unsal furthermore pointed out that the timeshare owners united in Toca have different contracts and that they cannot all be judged the same way. Some contracts refer to the unfinished buildings.
Chris de Bres told the court that Alegria has an interest that is larger than that of the Toca-members. “In two years the company wants to redevelop the property. Demolishing the old building will not be possible when there are still timeshare owners in it.”
The plight of the timeshare owners at the former Caravanserai resort caused a big stir, but so far it has not inspired the government or the parliament to initiate legislation aimed at protecting the rights of timeshare owners. The recently published governing program does not mention timeshare legislation as a priority.